Study Abroad

April 1, 2020

An update from Director Wolf Latsch

Dear UW Study Abroad community,

I hope that this message finds you well – or at least healthy, and somewhat sane.

The events of the past few weeks have been so all-consuming, that I am just now getting a chance to take a (short) breath and reflect on everything that has happened. As I collect my thoughts, what stands out above all is the importance of community and connection. With that in mind, I wanted to reach out to all of you and provide an update about study abroad here at the University of Washington.

Many of us have been forced to let go of some cherished and long-awaited plans because of the effects of COVID-19, and our students are no exception. As you may know, UW Study Abroad called students home from China in February, then from the UW Rome Center in March, and finally cancelled all spring break and spring quarter programs. Last week, we came to the difficult and previously unimaginable decision to cancel all study abroad programming for this summer. All these cancellations are beyond disappointing and have so far affected around 1500 students. The cancelled programs represent months or even years of dreaming and planning for our students – and also a lot of work and dedication on the part of my team. But the health, safety and security of our students and our communities has to come first.

Hundreds of UW students were already abroad before the crisis began. We have advised them to return home as soon as feasible, bearing in mind that sheltering in place for the time being may be the safest option. Most changed their plans immediately and have already arrived back in the U.S., but the UW Global Travel Security team is in frequent communication with those still abroad to offer them advice and support.

Mindful of the challenges that we face as a local and global community, we are optimistic about a bright and not-too-distant future in which UW students will again be traveling the world in search of discovery and human connection. We are, slowly and cautiously, getting ready to pivot to future study abroad programming, ready to restart and connect with students who may be ready to plan for study abroad in 2021. Like you, we look forward to looking forward to something again!

I am inspired by students like Jennifer and Isaiah. Study abroad changed their Husky Experiences and indeed will shape their futures. The same is true for many of you reading this right now. Study abroad is a unique and life-changing experience, one that we must make available for all UW students.

You all have much else on your minds right now – so I’ll sign off, wishing you all health and hope. Thank you for being part of our global Husky community, and I will be in touch again soon with hopefully more positive and upbeat updates!


Wolf Latsch
Director, UW Study Abroad